Posted: 22 July 2015

The most rewarding experience I've had

Children in care often lack consistent adult support, leaving them vulnerable to further neglect or abuse. Our volunteer independent visitor scheme matches a trained adult with a child in care to offer the vital support they need. Chloe, an independent visitor from our CheckPoint Torbay programme shares her experience. 

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Helping to change Amy's live

Amy* and I first met almost a year ago - I can’t believe how quickly that year has gone. After completing my independent visitor training I felt well informed and couldn’t wait to get started. However, it took a while for Amy, who is 15, to agree to see me as she suffered from anxiety, especially about meeting new people. After a few cancelled visits I sent a card to break the ice and let her know I wasn’t that scary. This seemed to do the trick and we’ve been meeting regularly since.

The visits started out a little differently to how I’d planned. The first time I went to see Amy on my own she’d forgotten and gone out for the evening, so I learned very quickly to always confirm the visit on the day. The initial visits didn't involve big trips out or activities, things started slowly with trips to McDonald's and shopping in town. Over the year the visits have got longer and most recently we went for lunch and a long country walk together with limited looking at mobile phones- something I could only have dreamt of at the beginning.

Amy had been in care since she was 11 - she frequently ran away and was at high risk of sexual exploitation. She experienced a lot of changes including moving from a residential unit to foster care in a different town, and recently a change of social worker. It has given me a deep insight into the care system and all the changes a young person in care can go through. For this reason, consistency has been key. Amy now knows I am coming back to see her and has started to trust that I will stick to my word. It's been very important not to let her down, I always put our visits above other plans. She's now applied for a local Prince's Trust course, something which I am sure will be invaluable to her. So watch this space!

'Volunteering has been the most fantastic experience'

Recognising that Amy has started to trust me, value our time together and seek my support is an amazing feeling. I can honestly say volunteering with The Children’s Society has been the most fantastic experience and taught me a lot about myself along the way. Yes it has been challenging at times and sometimes I’ve questioned whether it’s actually making a difference, but good things come to those who wait. Continuing to build a trusting relationship and seeing Amy develop into a brilliant young woman is an absolute privilege and continues to be the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. 

Throughout training and beyond, the staff at The Children’s Society have been right behind me. They are always there when you need them and have such a wealth of experience with vulnerable children and young people; they seem to know exactly how to support you whenever you might need it. 

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Names have been changed to protect individuals' privacy.